Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Early Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) are similar in men, women, and children. Early symptoms and signs are usually easy to recognize and primarily involve pain, discomfort, or burning when trying to urinate. Accompanying this can be the sense that one needs to urinate urgently (known as urinary urgency) or the need for frequent urination (called urinary frequency). Even when there is a strong urge to urinate, you may pass only a small amount of urine. The urine itself may appear bloody or cloudy. Men may feel pain in the rectum, while women may experience pain around the pubic bone.

Some people, however, may develop urinary tract infections without having these characteristic symptoms. Infants, in particular, may have nonspecific signs and symptoms like fussiness, fever, and poor feeding. Likewise, the elderly may not have specific symptoms, and the diagnosis may be more difficult in this case. In some cases, urinary tract infections can be present without causing symptoms at all.

In general, fever is uncommon if there is an infection of the bladder or urethra (lower urinary tract). Fever is more likely to accompany a UTI when the infection has spread to the kidneys or to the bloodstream.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) causes

A UTI occurs when bacteria enter and grow in the normally sterile urinary tract. At least 90% of uncomplicated infections are caused by a type of bacteria called Escherichia coli, better know as E. coli. These bacteria normally live in the bowel (colon) and around the anus and can move to the area around the urethra. Other types of bacteria can also cause a UTI but less commonly.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2015

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Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

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